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New U.S. Forces Korea coronavirus restrictions apply to Area II, defined as the greater Seoul metropolitan area.
New U.S. Forces Korea coronavirus restrictions apply to Area II, defined as the greater Seoul metropolitan area. (U.S. Forces Korea/Twitter)

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U.S. Forces Korea will raise the risk level for coronavirus transmission for installations in and around Seoul starting at 6 p.m. Saturday.

The health protection condition for Area II, which includes the U.S. Army’s Yongsan Garrison, will move from Bravo to Charlie, signaling there is a substantial risk of infection, for an indefinite period, the command said in a news release late Friday.

USFK cited the rising number of coronavirus infections in Seoul, which reported 250 new cases Thursday, according to the Central Disease Control Headquarters.

“To minimize the potential exposure to others, only mission essential individuals will report for duty with all others conducting telework,” the command’s order said.

Travel within Area II will be limited to "official and necessary" business only.

Seoul was already off-limits as an off-duty destination for U.S. military personnel other than those who reside there.

Takeout and delivered food are permitted but restaurant dining will be prohibited; most activities, including bars, karaoke rooms and similar establishments are forbidden, along with off-base gyms and other fitness facilities, internet cafes, aerobics classes, dance studios and other activities.

The remainder of U.S. bases on the Korean Peninsula, including Camp Humphreys and Osan Air Base, both south of Seoul, remain in condition Bravo, a moderate threat of the virus spreading, though commanders continue to call for adherence to mask wearing, hand washing and social distancing, as well as keeping some activities, particularly involving indoor venues and crowds, off-limits.

South Korea reported 689 new cases across the country on Thursday, according to the Central Disease Control Headquarters.

South Korean authorities plan to mobilize troops to assist with frontline healthcare workers as the number of infections continues to rise, the Asahi newspaper reported Friday in Tokyo.

A third viral wave in South Korea has put to the test public health measures that were previously acclaimed across the globe.ditzler.joseph@stripes.com Twitter: @JosephDitzler

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